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LEGACY OF DISSENT by Nicolaus Mills


Forty Years of Writing from Dissent Magazine

edited by Nicolaus Mills

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-88879-X
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

 Amid the ruins of the fratricidal wars that drove much of the American left into irrelevance by the end of WW II, Dissent, a highly intelligent journal of opinion, first appeared in 1954. Edited by the late Irving Howe, the magazine had a decidedly democratic-socialist bent but hewed to no orthodoxy. In this volume's preface, one of the magazine's current co-editors, Michael Walzer, writes that Dissent has ``steadfastly avoided the flat assurances of the old ideologically driven Left....No one in its pages has claimed to possess the single sure remedy for the sociological equivalents of hair loss, anemia, cancer, and the common cold.'' Editor Mills (Arguing Immigration, not reviewed) has grouped his selections under seven headings: ``Social Visions,'' ``Political Arguments,'' ``Culture and Society,'' ``Race,'' ``Feminism,'' ``Labor Under Siege,'' and ``The Cold War and After.'' Some of the older essays reprinted here--Norman Mailer's 1957 ``The White Negro'' and Paul Goodman's 1960 ``Growing Up Absurd''--are classics. The newer ones include GĂ…nter Grass's 1993 ``On Loss: The Condition of Germany'' and Cornel West's 1991 ``Nihilism in Black America.'' The range and passion of the pieces presented here shows off another one of Dissent's strengths: Not only has it adopted a dissident stance toward mainstream American politics and culture, but it has also fostered and nurtured dissent in its own pages.